Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13 - This day in Petty history

1967 - Starting alongside pole-winner David Pearson, Richard Petty leads 266 of 291 laps and wins the Rebel 400 at Darlington by a full lap over Pearson.

Richard's 55th career win set a new mark for excellence in NASCAR Grand National. His victory broke a tie he had with his father for most career Grand National wins. As a result, Richard became (and remains) NASCAR's winningest Grand National/Cup driver.

For the start of the race, pole winner David Pearson took the outside lane with second-place qualifier Petty on the inside. The Silver Fox was making his first start with the Holman & Moody, factory-supported Ford team.

Photo courtesy of Ray Lamm
At the drop of the green, Chattanooga TN's Friday Hassler thought he had opening on the outside along the wall. Except he didn't - he got clipped and then went two wheeling like a Joie Chitwood thrill show. Before the back part of the field could even make it to the starter's stand, several wound up in a wrecked heap including Hassler, Jabe Thomas (25), Roy Mayne (46), and NASCAR HOFer Buck Baker.

All that action was behind the leaders. Petty spent time jostling with the leaders in the first third of the race before taking over for good. He went to the point for good on lap 101 and led the final 191 laps to take the checkers.

When I visited the Richard Petty Museum in 2011, the 1967 Rebel 400 trophy was one spotted on display.

One thing I found interesting about the trophy is the Marlboro sponsorship. Just four years later, R.J. Reynolds' Winston cigs would become the title sponsor of the series, and competing cigarette brands would no longer sponsor tracks, races or drivers.

Look closely at the following picture, and you'll spot the trophy on the hood of the car.

Following Richard's milestone win to break the tie with his father, Chrysler Corporation announced it would dedicate a permanent marker at the speedway in Richard's honor. The article below indicated the marker would be installed at the start-finish line.

I'm not sure if the plaque was ever installed at the start-finish line. But I do know the track still has it. The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum (formerly known as the Joe Weatherly Stock Car Museum - and it still should be!) still has the plaque on display, and a reader kindly shared a couple of photos of it with me.

Credit to and courtesy of Travis Atkison
Articles courtesy of Jerry Bushmire
Edited May 12, 2014

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